Postgraduate student profiles

150 Rachel Chin PG profile image

Rachel Chin

Supervisor: Professor Martin Thomas

Rachel graduated in 2010 from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, with a BA (hons) in International Studies and Economics and a BSBA (hons) in International Business and Spanish. She went on to complete her MSc in International Relations Theory and History at the London School of Economics and Political Science, specialising in Anglo-French Relations.

Rachel’s doctoral research at the University of Exeter is centred upon Anglo-French relations during the Second World War. Taking a rhetorical stance, her research examines a series of ‘crisis points’ between 1940–1942 and analyses the rhetoric that was created to discuss, justify, and explain the event as part of the governmental decision-making process, how it manifested itself in the public sphere, and how the broader public reacted to it. It seeks to question how the two actors interpreted their own and their counterpart’s actions and trace the role of historical themes especially the importance of the empire.

Key areas of analysis for this project include: the rise to power of Reynaud and Churchill, the French request for and subsequent acceptance of a Franco-German armistice, and the events at Mers el-Kébir and Dakar. The analysis of these events will involve the use of parliamentary debates, newspapers, Mass Observation, speeches, and intellectual response.

150 Laure Humbert PG profile image

Laure Humbert

Supervisor: Professor Martin Thomas

My doctoral dissertation examines how French diplomats, administrators and relief workers approached the question of Eastern European Displaced Persons (DPs) in post-war Germany, in cooperation with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and later the International Refugee Organisation (IRO). It pays particular attention to the tensions between these UN agencies’ aspirations to transform international relief into a modern and secular profession. And it highlights the obstacles that stood in the way of this endeavour in the French zone of occupation. The thesis demonstrates that distinctive diplomatic constraints, economic requirements and cultural differences influenced the thought and practice of refugee humanitarianism, shaping alternate ways of arranging interim provision and ‘rehabilitating’ DPs in the French zone of occupation. French relief agencies pursued policies in relation to displaced persons that stood in marked contrast to those deployed in the British and American zones. The core arguments of my thesis thus contribute to debates on nationalism, internationalism and refugee humanitarianism in the mid-twentieth century.

My PhD research has provided a platform for a more ambitious post-doctoral project that will explore French and Anglo-American cooperation (or its absence) in regard to strategies of care for refugees’ mental and physical health in the interwar, wartime and post-war periods. This project will examine the extent to which international humanitarian experts and local relief workers transformed the landscape of humanitarian aid, contributing to the practices of humanitarian action as we know them today. It pays particular attention to the origins of the ‘psychological turn’ in humanitarian intervention. As Didier Fassin and Richard Rechtman note, ‘contemporary society now accepts without question the notion that psychologists and psychiatrists intervene in situations of war and disaster, as well as in cases of exceptional or even everyday violence. No one seems astonished when mental health professionals leave their care centres and consulting rooms to attend to the ‘psychically wounded’ in debriefing spaces.’1 Fifty years ago this was not self-evident practice and notions of ‘psychic wounds’, ‘trauma’, and ‘emotional memories’ were poorly understood. My research examines why this was so, and considered the stages by which such presumptions changed. Beside this, I have also an interest in the history of the migration of the Banatais (refugees of Romanian, Yugoslav and Hungarian origin) in post-war France. It explores the insights offered by their recruitment onto wider French experiences of collaboration and ‘forced enrolment’ in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.

1 Didier Fassin and Richard Rechtman The Empire of Trauma. An inquiry into the condition of Victimhood (Princeton: Princenton University Press, 2007), pp. 4-5.

150 Simon Mackley PG profile image

Simon Mackley

Supervisor: Professor Richard Toye

Simon was awarded a BA (Hons) History in 2008 from the University of Exeter, and went on to specialise in Modern History for his MA, graduating in 2012 from the University of Sheffield.

Simon’s doctoral research explores Empire as an issue within late-Victorian and Edwardian British politics, focusing particularly on the rhetoric of the Liberal Party. Adopting many of the approaches of the wider ‘Rhetoric of Empire’ research project, his research makes use of speeches, newspaper sources, parliamentary debates and election materials to examine the methods by which a rhetoric of 'Liberal Empire' was constructed, and the ways in which Liberal politicians drew upon said rhetoric during specific episodes of imperial controversy and crisis.
Key areas of focus for Simon’s research include the British reaction to the Fashoda Crisis, the outbreak of the 1899-1902 South African War, the subsequent reconstruction of the newly-annexed Transvaal Colony, and the significance of Empire for the passage of the Third Irish Home Rule Bill. The research will also explore the rhetoric surrounding the perennial issues of trade policy and imperial federation, so as to uncover the overarching framework within which Liberal discussion of the Empire took place.

150 Amanda Phipps PG profile image

Amanda Phipps

Supervisors: Dr Catriona Pennell and Dr Patrick Duggan

My doctoral thesis (AHRC funded) examines the use of artistic representations in teaching English schoolchildren about the First World War and how theatre in particular is transmitting collective memories about the conflict to the next generation. My research takes a chronological look at the aids used to learn about the First World War from 1918 until the present day, creating a historical context in which contemporary education on the conflict can be explored. A central part of my research is directly discussing with schoolchildren their understanding and education on the war through questionnaires, oral testimonies, class and Theatre in Education observations. This gives a voice to those at the centre of my thesis, but who often remain silent in research into the history of education.

Previously I completed an MA in War, Culture and History at the University of Manchester (AHRC funded) and a BA (Hons) in English Literature with the University of London (Bedford Scholarship). Both these institutions developed my interest in the cultural history of warfare as I conducted a variety of research within this field, particularly into the oral histories of war veterans and the role of artistic representations in shaping collective memory about a number of conflicts. My academic interests have also led me to hold a number of intern and voluntary positions at the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester.